My progressive values remain focused on social and economic justice, public education, and the environment. Working with progressive advocacy groups and individuals, I drafted and filed twenty-eight bills at the beginning of the 2023-2024 session of the state legislature. I anticipate filing several Home Rule Petitions submitted by the Town of Brookline as well.
H.2284 An Act respecting autonomy in name choice for newly married partners
In Massachusetts, people getting married who wish to change their last name can fill out a simple form; changing a middle name requires paying a fee and filing of a case in Probate and Family Court. This bill allows individuals who are getting married to change any part of their name (first, middle, and/or last) when getting married, without fee or court proceeding.
H.2974/S.1847 An Act relative to senior property tax deferral
Filed with Representative Rogers (Cambridge) and Senator Jehlen (Somerville), this bill makes the current senior property tax deferral program equitable and available to more residents. This bill (a) eliminates the requirement that the senior be a 5-year resident of that home and a 10-year resident of Massachusetts, (b) increases the income eligibility to the same standard of eligibility for the senior circuit breaker tax credit, (c) reduces the default interest rate from 8% to a rate based on recent state or local bond rates, (d) delays the interest rate increase to 16% from the day of the senior’s passing to one year later to allow his or her family the time necessary to settle the estate, and (e) requires the municipality to inform participants of their current balance at least annually.
H.729 An Act to preserve local decision making during an emergency
This bill creates a process through which cities and towns can continue to meet during short- or long-term emergency situations, such as a snowstorm, fire, or even another pandemic. For short-term emergencies, the moderator would be able to delay their community’s Town Meeting for up to 14 calendar days. For emergencies lasting longer than 14 days, the Moderator and Chair of the Select Board can request permission from the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) to hold Town Meeting according to the rules that were in place during COVID-19. Additionally, during long-term emergencies the Mayor or Chair of the Select Board may request permission from the AGO to hold public meetings according to the rules that were in place during COVID-19.
H.2973 An Act establishing a local option gas tax
Filed with Representative Pignatelli (Lenox), this bill allows municipalities to establish a 3 cent per gallon local-option gasoline excise tax with one-third of revenue being designated for local transportation infrastructure, one-third for the public transportation agency serving the community, and one-third to support local programs designed to reduce reliance on single occupancy motor vehicle transportation.
H.2359 An Act to prohibit carrying firearms in sensitive places
Filed with Representative Linsky (Natick), this bill prohibits the possession of firearms in sensitive locations, punishable by a fine for up to $10,000 and two and a half years in the House of Corrections. Sensitive locations include buildings used for government administration, locations providing health services, places of worship, libraries, public playgrounds and parks, schools, locations providing youth or developmental services, locations providing mental health or addiction services, homeless shelters, colleges and universities, public transportation, airports, bus and train terminals, bars, stadiums, theaters, museums, casinos, active polling places, public sidewalks being used for special events, and shopping malls.
H.3236/S.2176 An Act sparking the construction of 21st century building
Filed with Senator Payano (Lawrence), the Spark Act ensures that newly constructed buildings have a reduced carbon footprint as compared to current building codes. The legislation requires the next iteration of the Stretch Building Energy Code to require building to be ready for solar panels and for the Specialized Stretch Energy Code to require solar panel installation for all buildings where solar makes sense. All new government buildings would be required to comply with the Specialized Stretch Energy Code. The bill also requires that when the base code is updated every three years, it must include all the energy efficiency requirements of the prior Stretch Building Energy Code.
H.3127 An Act relative to chapter 30B procurement parity
This bill brings all municipal procurement caps for a sealed bidding process in line with the recently passed Operational School Efficiency law, which raised procurement caps for school district purchasing from $50,000 to $100,000. A single procurement threshold for all municipal purchasing will streamline the procurement process, as many cities and towns employ a single procurement officer for both school and general municipal needs.
H.730 An Act relative to city and town clerks mailing of early voting ballots
This bill creates a start date for early voting, allowing City and Town Clerks to distribute early voting ballots no more than 30 days before the election.
H.3468 An Act relative to out of state operator’s motor vehicle license applications
This bill requires that applicants for a Massachusetts motor vehicle license who are already licensed in another state to pass the written examination and driving test before receiving a Massachusetts license, ensuring that all drivers licensed in Massachusetts have demonstrated that they understand our rules of the road.
H.3469 An Act relative to electronic toll payments
To increase compliance with toll payments, and to reduce the costs of mailing pay-by-plate invoices, this bill makes toll information and payment available online, so that a driver without an E-ZPass can pay online. Currently, the owner of the vehicle receives an invoice in the mail many weeks later, including convenience and processing fees, as well as substantial additional fees if the vehicle is a rental car.
H.608/S.321 An Act to ensure charter school transparency and public accountability
Filed with Representative Ultrino (Malden) and Senator Moran (Plymouth), this bill requires charter schools to operate in a manner more similar to public schools. The bill increases parental and student involvement in decision making, requires documents and budgets to be made public, regulates discipline, improves data collection, protects whistleblowers, and more.
H.1159 An Act relative to parental choice for medically fragile students
This bill ensures that the roughly 100 medically fragile students in the Commonwealth can use their own medical team during the school day while ensuring that school departments aren’t obligated to absorb any more of the cost than they would under their current obligation.
H.2681/S.1632 An Act relative to certain employees of the MBTA advisory board
Filed with Senator Crighton (Lynn), this bill adds the employees of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Advisory Board to the Group Insurance Commission and State Retirement Board System, correcting previous legislation that excluded these employees.
H.3470 An Act relative to roadway safety
This bill updates the law to ensure that vulnerable roadway users are protected when in a marked crossing. Vulnerable road users include pedestrians, cyclists, skaters, individuals using mobility aids, people working on the roads, emergency services personnel, and others using micro-mobility devices. This bill makes it clear that these users should yield to automobiles that would be unable to stop, and that vehicles that can safely stop must do so to allow safe crossing.
H.2973/S.728 An Act relative to commuter transit benefits
Filed with Representative Owens (Watertown) and Senator Keenan (Quincy), this bill expands the current commuter transit tax deduction to include Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) and Regional Transit Authority (RTA) transit, bus, commuter rail, and commuter boat fares, as well as bikeshare memberships. The bill also lowers the amount eligible for deduction from $150 to $50, allowing more people to take advantage of the deduction.
H.3471 An Act relative to the enhancement of child safety
Ice cream trucks are required to have and use yellow flashing lights when selling frozen treats, similar to tow trucks when performing a tow. This bill provides an enforcement mechanism, allowing law enforcement officers to assess a $50 fine to any ice cream truck operator not using yellow flashing lights when selling desserts. It also includes inspection of these safety lights as part of the annual vehicle safety inspection process.
H.1181/S.2208 An Act relative to petit treason
Filed with Senator DiDomenico (Everett), this bill eliminates “petit treason” from Massachusetts General Laws, where it appears as a crime to be prosecuted and punished as murder. A legacy of English colonial rule, a petit treason occurs in Massachusetts: where a servant killed their master or mistress; where a wife killed her husband; and where a clergyman killed his superior. Mark and Phillis, two enslaved people who murdered their enslaver in 1775 in Charlestown, were the only people to ever be tried and convicted of petit treason in Massachusetts. Petit treason remains on the books as a racist and misogynistic result of our colonial past and has no place in our laws today.
H.2975 An Act relative to vehicle excise tax
This bill increases the excise tax rate for new vehicles. The first-year rate rises from 90% to 95%, the second-year rate rises from 60% to 70%, and the third-year rate rises from 40% to 45%. As is the law today, all revenue from the vehicle tax goes directly to the municipality in which the vehicle is registered.
H.2119 An Act relative to parking permit fees
Due to exiting legislation and court rulings, municipalities often offer an unlimited number of parking permits to residents for little to no charge. When parking permits are underpriced, all residents, including those who don’t own a car, experience undue congestion, pollution, and risk to pedestrians and bicyclists. This bill allows municipalities to charge up to $7 per day for parking permits, allowing communities to price a scare resource appropriately, subject to each community’s unique circumstances.
H.3467 An Act relative to speed limits
Under current law, municipalities can lower the speed limit of roads in thickly settled areas to 25 mph. However, due to a narrow interpretation of the law and historical happenstance, a handful of roads in each community also require explicit permission from MassDOT, and potentially complete a costly speed study. This legislation allows municipalities to lower these speed limits to 25 mph, standardizing the speed limit across town.
H.2682 An Act relative to timely retirement payment
This bill ensures that recent State retirees begin receiving their retirement payments as soon as they are eligible. The bill requires the Massachusetts Retirement Board to pay 90% of a retirees estimated full monthly retirement payment in circumstances where the retirement board is unable to calculate the full monthly payment in time for the first full payment date.
H.3235/S.2101 An Act authorizing municipalities to impose a methane emissions surcharge and authorize non-pipeline alternatives
Filed with Senator Creem (Newton), this bill is filed on behalf of Brookline Town Meeting, in response to Warrant Article 26 (Fall 2022.) This statewide legislation allows municipalities to impose a gas utility surcharge, with low-income exemptions. The funds raised with this surcharge would be used for program or activities that promote emissions reduction within that municipality.
H.1929/S.1193 An Act expanding access to commuter transit benefits offered by employers
Filed with Representative Owens (Watertown) and Senator Keenan (Quincy), this bill requires Massachusetts employers with 50 or more employees to offer an optional commuter transit benefit program through which employees could use pre-tax salary dollars to cover commuter costs including transit passes, commuter highway vehicles, and bicycle costs.
H.2937 An Act relative to tax deeds and protecting equity for homeowners facing foreclosure
Filed with Representative Roy (Franklin), this bill resolves an inequity under current law allowing a municipality to foreclose on a property and collecting the entire value of the property above and beyond the debt that is owed if a property owner has any unpaid municipal tax or fee, of any dollar amount. This bill clearly outlines the process for collectors to receive tax or fee liabilities and requires tax collectors seeking foreclosure to appear before land court for authorization. It also requires the municipality or third-party acting on its behalf to return the difference between the value of the seized asset and the debt for rather than keeping the surplus for itself.
H.1404/S.1104 An Act protecting homeowners from unnecessary foreclosures
Filed with Representative Cahill (Lynn) and Senator Oliveira (Ludlow), this bill permits the use of a shared appreciation mortgage by non-profits in Massachusetts following disclosure practices allowing for additional foreclosure relief, thereby helping homeowners with troubled mortgages maintain their home ownership.
HD.3479 An Act relative to the portability of alcohol service licenses
This bill modifies licensing regulations to allow for a single alcohol service license that can be used at private events in multiple municipalities.
H.922/S.2177 An Act advancing water access equity through utility reporting requirement
Filed with Senator Rausch (Needham), this bill requires municipalities to report information regarding water utility access, shutoffs, and related non-payments and liens to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
H.2415 An Act establishing a special commission to ensure the safety and sustainability of non-profit public events
Filed with Senator Timilty (Milton), this bill establishes a commission to investigate, study and evaluate the costs and benefits related to creating a fund to support the needs of public safety and sustainability and waste mitigation for nonprofit events in Massachusetts.
HD.4167 An Act authorizing the town of Brookline to adopt green zoning by-laws and regulations
This bill provides Brookline broad latitude to adopt zoning by-laws and regulations for the purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency and otherwise addressing specific harms stemming from or contributing to the climate crisis.